Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur believes the squad’s lacklustre showing at the British Grand Prix was made worse by them being “a bit scared” about tyre degradation and subsequently playing it safe.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz qualified fourth and fifth in mixed conditions at Silverstone but slumped to ninth and 10th on race day, with both drivers’ strategies hindered by the timing of the late-race Safety Car.
However, Vasseur also feels there was some hesitation from the team in terms of tyre life – an area they have been pushing to improve after a spate of early-season struggles relative to their main rivals.
“Starting P4 and P5, we had the feeling after quali that we could have done a much better job than this,” Vasseur reflected. “We can’t be happy finishing P9, P10, but now we need to have a deep look on the weekend, not just on the race.
“I think we didn’t do the long stint on Friday, we [only did a] long stint on only the soft compound and Charles was stuck in the garage [with technical problems], and we were a bit scared with the deg.
Race Highlights: 2023 British Grand Prix
“Probably somewhere in our mind [was] that we had the first races of the season, [whereas here] we were far too conservative on the tyre management and we didn’t push enough.
“We are a bit unlucky with the Safety Car, but this is not in our hands and we don’t have to think about this, we have to think about what we can manage, and honestly I think that we could have pushed much more.”
Doubling down on the situation, he added: “I think it’s true that we had much less deg… It was our main issue at the beginning of the season and it was not the case today. Perhaps we had a lack of pace compared to the Mercedes, but not deg.
“The pace is also perhaps that the car is still a bit unstable with the wind and so on. We knew before that Silverstone could be a difficult one for us, but where we lost the most was with deg and the Safety Car.”
2023 British Grand Prix: Sainz loses three places in just five corners
With F1 moving on to Budapest and the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend, Vasseur hopes the layout of the circuit will better suit Ferrari’s SF-23 – though stressed the need to be on top form in all areas.
“On the paper, yes,” the Frenchman commented. “But then you have the set-up, it’s not just a matter of [the] package fitting with the track.
“The set-up that you are doing, the preparation of the weekend, the Friday that you are doing are key. It will be probably even more [so] in Budapest because it’s so difficult to overtake that it will be crucial.”
Ferrari hold fourth in the constructors’ standings as the season approaches its halfway mark, sitting behind Aston Martin, Mercedes and Red Bull, while Sainz and Leclerc hold fifth and seventh respectively in the drivers’ battle.